Icons of American Cooking

by Victor W. Geraci and Elizabeth S. Demers, Editors


Today, most Americans eat for more than simply nourishment—they eat to entertain their taste buds and experience new flavors and textures. And yes, some of us even eat to be fashionable. Credit is due to a select group of groundbreaking cooks and food lovers for greatly expanding the American palate over the course of the last 60 years.

Print Flyer

March 2011


Pages 314
Volumes 1
Size 7x10
Topics Popular Culture/Icons and Celebrities

Discover how these contemporary food icons changed the way Americans eat through the fascinating biographical profiles in this book.

Before 1946 and the advent of the first television cooking show, James Beard's I Love to Eat, not many Americans were familiar with the finer aspects of French cuisine. Today, food in the United States has experienced multiple revolutions, having received—and embraced—influences from not only Europe, but cultures ranging from the Far East to Latin America. This expansion of America's appreciation for food is largely the result of a number of well-known food enthusiasts who forever changed how we eat.

Icons of American Cooking examines the giants of American food, cooking, and cuisine through 24 biographical profiles of contemporary figures, covering all regions, cooking styles, and ethnic origins. This book fills a gap by providing behind-the-scenes insights into the biggest names in American food, past and present.


  • Provides 24 intriguing, biographical entries detailing the lives of some of America's greatest food and cooking pioneers and institutions
  • Includes contributions from 18 distinguished scholars, librarians, and journalists
  • Offers key insight into childhood and family, education, career trajectory and triumphs, and legacy
  • Numerous sidebars offer intriguing quotations, sample menus, and excerpts from writings
  • Suggestions for further reading follow each profile


  • Sheds light upon the lives and creative genius of some of the best and most famous chefs, cooks, and food writers
  • Reveals an exciting American food revolution in 24 biographies
  • Includes coverage of food celebrities such as Julia Child and Anthony Bourdain, deeply respected food writers such as M.F.K. Fisher, as well as the famed Culinary Institute of America and Betty Crocker
  • Ideal for the collections of public, secondary, university, and professional libraries as well as for general readers
Author Info

Victor W. Geraci, PhD, is the food and wine historian and associate director of the University of California Berkeley's Regional Oral History Office (ROHO). His published works include Salud!: The Rise of Santa Barbara's Wine Industry and Aged In Oak: The Story of the Santa Barbara County Wine Industry..

Elizabeth S. Demers, PhD, is senior editor at Potomac Books, Dulles, VA. She was previously senior editor at Greenwood Publishing Group.



"This basic volume on some of the more influential entities in the food business today is accessible for high school students and undergraduates; a good option for large public libraries. The clear strength of the work is in the additional readings and the coverage of lesser-known topics such as Crocker, the CIA, and Chuck Williams of Williams-Sonoma."—Library Journal

"Icons of American Cooking is a nice introduction to the culinary scene in the U.S. today. It is a good resource for student reports and for those interested in cooking, and could be added to circulating collections as well as reference collections in public and undergraduate libraries."—Booklist

"Editors Geraci and Demers feature 23 truly iconic individuals of American cooking in this volume, along with an entry on the Culinary Institute of America. Well-known figures such as Julia Child, Betty Crocker, and Tim and Nina Zagat are included. . . . Interesting stories and quotations are interspersed throughout. Summing Up: Recommended."—Choice

Series Description

Greenwood Icons

Worshipped and cursed. Loved and loathed. Hated and obsessed about the world over. What does it take to become an icon? Regardless of subject, culture, or era, the requisite qualifications are the same: 1. Challenge the status quo, 2. Influence millions, and 3. Impact history. (A little fanfare never hurt either). Greenwood Press introduces a new reference format and approach to popular culture. Spanning a wide range of subjects, works in the Greenwood Icons product line provide students and general readers a port of entry into the most fascinating and influential topics of the day. Every title in the series offers an in-depth look at 25 iconic figures, each embodying a group of values and reflecting the essence of a particular culture. Whether people, places, or things, such icons serve as a bridge between the past and the present, the canonical and the contemporary. By focusing on icons central to popular culture, these works encourage students to compare and contrast different periods and traditions, appreciate cultural diversity, and critically analyze issues of enduring significance. The series also provides fresh insights for the student and popular reader into the power and influence of icons, a topic of as vital interest today as in any previous era. Series Features:
    Detailed entries provide far more information than conventional reference articles but are less intimidating and more accessible than a book-length biography
    Brings subjects to life through illustrations, sidebars, timelines, fact boxes, quotations, and photograph
    Entries illuminate related iconic figures and influences0151often from other historical periods and cultures0151for comparative consideration
    Helps students and general readers explore culture in a lively and engaging way BLServes as a unique resource for students of American history and culture

Look Inside

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